Tuesday, May 6, 2008

92 Years Young

I don't think I've ever told you about my grandmother, my dad's mom, Carrie Estelle Morris Evans, but she lived to be 97 years old. (This isn't the same grandmother whom I dreamed about...in the rocking chair). Until the last, Carrie lived alone and was quite self-sufficient. She still tended a garden and grew most of her own vegetables. In addition, she had little bursts of flowers next to her small front porch and her tiny back stoop. She lived in "senior housing," which is now known as the projects, but it was better than most places she had lived. Next door was a woman we called Granny Wheelis. She was probably at least as old as my grandmother, and they looked out for each other.

(In this first photo, my dad is on the left, Uncle Harvey is in the middle, and Granny is standing near her little apartment. She was maybe five feet tall [Dad was my height, 5'7"], and her hair, when loosed from the bun, reached her ankles. It was against her religion to cut it. She was very Old Testament. Notice the flowers. Notice the tomatoes she's holding, ready to go inside and produce something wonderful. On the other side of that brick wall was her garden and her clothesline).

Together my Granny and Granny Wheelis made and sold bonnets, shared food, and went to church. Across the yard lived my uncle Harvey and his wife. Their three daughters were grown and gone. Uncle Harvey, like most of my grandmother's children, died of lung cancer. His wife, Mildred, lived to a ripe old age, dying just one year before my mother. And until a few months before her death, she was still going dancing at the VFW club! I think this is why my husband always says that no matter what, I'll outlive him. "You Evans women," he says, shaking his head. "You always bury your husbands." I guess that includes women who marry into the Evans clan. I think that says more about the weakness of the Evans men than anything. My grandmother outlived her husband and five of her ten children. Of those who remained, all died of lung cancer, as far as I know.

Granny never went to school, because girls didn't back then. She did learn to read, though, and she read the Bible through every year. She followed many of the Jewish laws that were set forth in the Old Testament, including not cutting her hair. She never dyed her hair, cut it, styled it (more than putting it in a bun), wore makeup, wore jewelry, or "dressed up." The same sensible Cherokee dress you see her wearing in these pictures is what she wore always, with sensible lace-up black shoes. She gave birth to all of her children on her own, at home. She had my father in a closet and was back out in the field 2 hours later. Hard core!

I don't see many women like my grandmother around anymore, but today I listened to a woman who was born in 1915 and who was waiting her turn in therapy while I was lying in a dark room with a heat pack on my back. She was with her daytime caretaker, who informed the physical therapist that this woman lived alone and was able to manage her own baths, laundry, and simple meals.

One of the things that she and her companion chatted about while they were waiting was her prescriptions. She said, "I don't know that they do anything. I'm a non-believer," she said. The companion nodded but said that she had to get those filled and follow the doctor's orders.

Now there is a woman I wish I could be more like. I was more like that until the thyroid broke down, then the blood pressure shot up (but I've fixed that now WITHOUT meds). I do believe in trying to find natural cures for what ails you, which is one of the reasons I'm on board with physical therapy. I believe my therapist knows exactly what he is doing and is going to make a huge difference in my life.

After all, I don't lead the same life that my grandmother led. I'm not outside tilling, planting, hoeing, harvesting, and starting all over again. I'm not at a sewing machine making bonnets. I'm not canning and freezing food or walking up to the store every day to get milk or bread. That amazes me now that she was able to do all of that. My body is a victim of our modern society, maybe because I let it be. However, certain demands are placed on us in modern society. Sometimes I feel that I am not productive enough, because I'm not rushing around the way I used to, but then again, certain restraints exist in my life. My HOA puts restrictions on what I can do with my lot. Most of the food my family needs is readily available from my farmer's market (starting next weekend), the co-op, or the grocery store. Most of the clothing is cheaper to buy ready-made than to make at home (and I'm not sure they'd want to wear what I'm capable of making!) Likewise, normal activities require transportation by car. Because of the way I have to schedule my daily appointments, I can't walk or ride my bike to most of my therapy appointments (though it is within that distance). I usually have to hop in the car and go across town for another appointment before getting back to work. Rush, rush, rush!

Will I live to be 92 years young? Or 97, like my grandmother? What is required to get a person to that age? In my gerontology class in college, I learned that studies showed that people who were healthy through middle age tended to be healthy into old age. Ruh-roh! Sounds like I'm in for a wild ride into my twilight years! Ugh - I never found out if there was any way to change that.

Well, I need to close this little early Mother's Day post. I'm sure my Granny inherited that kingdom she so firmly believed in. I can't imagine anyone who worked harder to get there.

I'd love to hear about all the grannies in your lives.

Peace - D

4 comments:

:-Daryl said...

Those are some amazing women ..

:-Daryl

aims said...

We sure could use more of these kind of women in our lives today - as examples of what real life is all about.

Your grandmother must have been an amazing person and how you must miss her.

Momma said...

Daryl and Aims - Yes, she was pretty darned amazing. Both of my grandmothers were. I have often wished my kids could have known them. Those were my role models. Amazing, both of them.

Peace - D

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